Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Mon 10.8.09, Afternoon

Shlomit S, Yael S (reporting)

We arrived at the DCL a little after 14.30

Today there was again a lot of  pressure there.   In the waiting-hall there were seven people with numbers, and another thirty or so waiting for a miracle.   The Palestinians said that women without numbers were allowed in, and this upset the queueing order. Someone whom I know well was among those waiting.

The officer, R., came down to the waiting-hall by himself.

The situation was as follows : People with numbers were allowed-in immediately;  also allowed in were two women whose arrival had been coordinated with the DCO (these sort of cases do exist);  a pregnant woman with her child was also allowed in.

In addition, there were another thirty or so people, each of them with his or her reason why they needed a magnetic-card today and who could not come back on another day (not counting today's crying waste of time).   Ravi, I and Shlomit who was outside, tried to determine whether there were Palestinians coming out of the DCL with magnetic cards.   There were about five adults and Ravi asked in what order they should be allocated numbers. The Palestinians hadn't prepared a queueing-list, and everyone drew closer to him hoping to to receive a number. Ravi gave numbers to them all.

At about 16.30, he let them all into the interior hall, so that they could get  a magnetic card.   Ravi told everyone that at 6pm he would close the DCL, and whoever hadn't yet been dealt with would receive his signature on his request for a magnetic card, which would enable him to enter the next Monday without waiting in line.   At exactly 6pm five people came out with magnetic cards, and twenty-five with forms on which something had been written, plus one more who didn't receive a signature.

Two Palestinians said that although their magnetic cards were valid until the end of August 2009, they were told that they cannot cross at the checkpoints.   According to the DCO, they didn't renew their cards in time.  (I didn't check to see whether they had valid permits at that time).

Two medical cases were dealt-with nd Ravi came out with their permits.

Questions for clarification :

- Why were people not told to leave at 5pm and why were their requests

  signed in the hall ?

-  Why are women allowed in without queueing ?

-  If women are allowed in without numbers, why are numbers not issued

   only to men ?

-  What is the true rate of issuing magnetic cards ?

-  There is a camerainfo-icon in the hall - perhps it operates and perhaps not -

    who sees what's going on in the hall ?

Proposals and possibilities for improving the service :

-  To make a humanitarian queue and once every hour the soldier will

    allow these people to enter and their cases will be examined opposite

    the window at the entrance.

-  To allocate two days a week to Bethlehem, since this is the most

    populated area.

-  To make appointments by telephone and to set-up a humanitarian

   queuing  system.   In this way people would be asked to come at a

   specific time, and wouldn't have to wait in queues for hours and days,

   and often return empty-handed.

-  To respect the queueing numbers and not to allow women in freely

    without queueing.

According to my estimate, 25 permits were issued from 15.00 t0 18.00 (10 people who were inside, plus 7 who had numbers issued to them, plus 2 womenwho had been accepted without queueing, plus 5 who received numbers late in the day and received magnetic cards), and about 25 more who were turned away empty-handed.   If 3 inspection-stations were working, as we were told, (the Palestinians told us that only one station was in operation in the afternoon) this means that 8 ????? in 3 hours   ?????.   This is less than 3 ???? an hour, although according to the information that was given to  us it takes 10 minutes to issue each card.  Therefore the output efficiency was about 50%.

Re GSS-denied people :   According to the DCO, there are criteria about who can submit a request to have the denial annulled.   I don't know what document is needed to verify a person's security classification, but maybe we should simply print the forms ourselves and distribute them to the Palestinians in two copies, so that we can follow-up the status of the denial ?